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Reena Ahluwalia


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Reena Ahluwalia

  1. 1. R e e n a A h l u w a l i a Going Beyond Boundaries Wearing the mantle of a celebrity jewellery designer is generally not easy. But it is a breeze for Reena Ahluwalia, who takes up challenges as easily as her next breath. She reveals how she goes about making distinctive masterpieces and talks about her amazing journey into the world of jewellery that began 16 years ago. By Shanoo Bijlani Cosmic Marvel‘Stars of Africa’ 18 karat white gold and diamond orbital pendant by Reena Ahluwalia for Royal Asscher. Hypnotic SpellRhodium-plated sterling silver pendant with black enamel and floating diamonds from the ‘Shining Stars’ collection by Reena Ahluwalia for Royal Asscher. RoyalAsscher 52 india’s first Luxury jewellery magazine november-december 2011
  2. 2. 53india’s first Luxury jewellery magazine november-december 2011 ame follows her every step as she scripts her path to stardom in the world of gems and jewellery. Sought after by the likes of renowned jewellery brand Royal Asscher1 to design its Stars of Africa2 collection, this India-born Canadian artist’s work has even been featured on a Belgian postage stamp. Her 101-carat diamond jewel ‘Bel Canto’ was featured in a special five-stamp collection entitled “Antverpia 2010” by the Belgian Postal Service to highlight Antwerp as a celebrated diamond centre. Even the late iconic British fashion designer Alexander McQueen didn’t fail to notice her as he showcased one of her award- winning pieces in his Spring/ Summer 2000 collection-debut in New York. In February 2009, her specially designed diamond settings were installed in the Legislative Mace of Ontario, Canada. Reena was invited to design the settings for the first two diamonds mined from the Victor Mine – Ontario’s first f Creative Charisma
  3. 3. diamond mine owned by De Beers3 . These diamonds were set in the Mace of Ontario, a sceptre-like object that held a symbolic place in the regalia of the British Parliament during the 14th century. She has won so many national and international awards and honours that she has long stopped counting. Virtuoso at Work Reena wears her laurels with a casual air.Yes, she does feel honoured and thrilled when she is invited to collaborate with the likes of Royal Asscher, but fame is just a by-product of her hard work. For her, what is imperative is the cut of the gemstone and cutting-edge design. Showy strokes, fluid forms, edgy and innovative concepts, and perfect finish coalesce to form superlative and chic jewels.The first-generation jewellery designer loves to tell stories through her flawless and unparalleled designs. “My stories can take different turns, shapes and colours, unexpected or expected.These concepts are based on my experiences, ideas that are abstract or otherwise, prompted by things I observe and recall.” And what inspires her? “Inspiration can come from anywhere. It stays in my head and over time, becomes an occupation of my mind. Fluidity of the natural world; geometry in things I see around; cultural and visual cues that I take from my travels, art, architecture, machinery, poetry, fashion or history... anything can inspire me. I always record my thoughts in the form of notes, research and preliminary drawings. I revisit these and compile my thoughts based on what speaks to me and makes an immediate emotional connection. By this point I fairly know what I want to say, what story I have in my mind, and how I would like to tell it through my jewels. “I continue to explore by manually making detailed multiple technical drawings of the pieces to fine-tune the forms, mechanisms and its emotional appeal. It is imperative for me and I am good at drawing as well.Then I finalise pieces that best convey the story that I have in mind.Then, the drawing goes to CAD, for 3D rendering, and the piece is honed in the workshop and crafted with utmost care. Once ready, I test the pieces for quality, feel and functionality.” Reena single-handedly creates all her pieces and loves the process of jewellery making.“Preoccupation with the materials and processes are very important to the way I work.” RoyalAsscher Ringed!(From top) Rhodium-plated sterling sil- ver dome-shaped ring beautified with white enamel and floating-diamonds; 18 karat rose-plated sterling silver featuring floating-diamonds and black enamel; and rhodium-plated sterling silver, floating-diamonds and flared out design in black enamel. All rings are from the ‘Shining Stars’ collection by Reena Ahluwalia for Royal Asscher. Yellow BeautyA four carat fancy yellow cushion cut yellow diamond is surrounded by 2.21 carat colourless diamonds all mounted in platinum and 18 karat yellow gold. By Reena Ahluwalia for Diaco Inc. 54 india’s first Luxury jewellery magazine november-december 2011 Reena’s 101-carat diamond jewel ‘Bel Canto’ featured on a Belgian stamp.
  4. 4.  Royal Asscher is renowned for cutting the largest diamond ever found, the 3,105-carat Star of Africa (Cullinan) diamond in 1908. Royal Asscher was the first company in the world to patent a diamond cut – the ‘Asscher Cut’ in 1902. The jewellery firm also invented the famous ‘Royal Asscher Cut’ introduced in 2001.  The “Stars of Africa” collection was launched by Royal Asscher in 2009 with half globe rings featuring floating diamonds. In 2010, the firm invited Reena Ahluwalia to innovate and design full-globe floating diamond pendants and earrings. The jewellery consists of diamond globes (symbolising earth’s rotations) encircled by orbits (signifying education, health-care and empowerment for the people of Africa) and the free-floating diamonds represent the shining spirit of people. In 2011, another collection was unveiled called the “Shining Stars” collection inspired by the day and night landscape of the African Savannah. The line uses plated sterling silver and ceramics as two additional materials and retails from $1950 upwards. Both the “Stars of Africa” and “Shining Stars” collections benefit the “Star of Africa” Initiative, Royal Asscher’s African-focused fund-raising programme.  De Beers is the second-largest diamond mining company in the world. Flexible Approach Reena loves to travel and explore the world. “Had I not been a jewellery designer, I would perhaps have been an archaeologist, or followed another artistic pursuit or been a year-round traveller with no boundaries. I love the sense of discovery!” she admits. Her creations reflect her philosophy of discovery and she is not rigid about discarding her ideas that don’t work out. “I do that when I feel the forms and elements in my designs are not capturing or communicating the intended message effectively. It’s great to allow yourself to be open and flexible.” However, a lot of thought and planning goes into each and every piece that is crafted by her, and she unveils her new collection once every year.“I take time to create collections that are innovative and meaningful.” When commissioned for an assignment, does she go on a different creative trajectory to work on those pieces? “For me every commission starts with a fresh approach. It is necessary because that enables me to carve a new path of thinking to satisfy the project’s specific requirements. I find it exciting to work on projects that are different from each other, and let me experiment and widen my creative depths.” Besides her design projects, Reena is also a part-time professor in the jewellery & gemmology department at George Brown College,Toronto.ThisToronto-based designer sells her jewellery in North America,Asia, and Europe, and caters to private clients around the world. How does a person whose head is brimming with creative thoughts recharge herself? What is her de- stressing mantra? Reena informs, Creative Charisma Floating Fantasy‘Stars of Africa’ 18 karat white gold earrings with floating diamonds by Reena Ahluwalia for Royal Asscher. Gothic MystiqueA knock-out 18 karat white gold pendant decorated with 28.96 carat shield cut kunzite, 3.48 carat pear shaped tanzanite, 1.55 carat pavé-set tanzanite, 6.24 carat pavé-set pink sapphires. RoyalAsscher “I stop, breathe deeply and step out. I have to say that it refreshes me, and helps me reboot and refocus.” This confident and experimental designer also has a piece of advice to those who would like to step into the world of jewellery designing: “Be authentic, be yourself.There is no short cut to success.Work hard and stay honest to your work. Know that each experience counts – good or bad. Ask, explore, experiment, evaluate, integrate and implement.” That’s a tough act to follow! n 55india’s first Luxury jewellery magazine november-december 2011